Monday 25 June 2012

46 The Tool(S)

I had to buy this book. The Tools was written by two of the most famous people in Hollywood who nobody has ever heard of (outside of the movie business). Psychiatrist, Phil Stutz and psychotherapist, Barry Michels, are the go-to guys if you want to win an Academy Award. That is if you can get an appointment. But their book promises that those not lucky enough to make it past the gatekeepers can learn how to reach the summit on their own. It´s easy. Just follow The Yellow Brick Road.

  • Tool #1 Reversal of Desire (the Higher Force: The Force of Forward Motion) 

This one boils down to getting out of your comfort zone, embracing pain, going straight through it to endless possibilities (there are diagrams to make it easier to understand). Joseph Campbell covered much the same ground in his book Hero With a Thousand Faces (or was it ten thousand?) when he wrote:  you have to go through hell to get to the boon.

  • Tool #2 Active Love (the Higher Force: Outflow)

In a nutshell: get out of the maze (read "the trap of the past"). Realize you can only change yourself, not anyone else and accept them as they are. Only then will you have the freedom to go on with life.

  • Tool #3 Inner Authority (Higher Force: The Force of Self-Expression)

Get over your insecurity by realizing you have a second self: a shadow. Don´t wait for approval from the outside. Use your inner authority to turn your shadow into the cool, confident person you want to be.

There are a couple of more tools, such as, Grateful Flow and Jeopardy. And finally the conclusion: Faith in Higher Forces and The Fruits of a New Vision. But before I got to them I wondered if it wouldn´t be better to go to a good shrink and talk things over. Now how can I use my new-found smarts (tools 1, 2 and 3) to wangle an appointment with either Dr Stutz or Mr Michels? Then Sundance here we come.

Lesson 46:  You can´t tell a book by its cover

Next week: 47: Two Tin Cans & a String

Monday 18 June 2012

45 Out of Sight, Out of Mind

kgreggain /
For the last 9 months Eki and I have been separated by about 7000 miles and a cheap phone connection. It´s made a big difference. He gets scads of emails every day (I´ve seen them when we´ve edited together) and it´s easy for him to slide over some of them. It´s much better when we´re on the same continent and I can call him with "If it´s monday it must be Maggy."

Sometimes I bite the bullet and say to hell with the expense and phone from the Wild West. It´s always nice to hear his voice and find out what´s going on. But as far as a working arrangement, proximity makes all the difference. Then when I get a harebrained idea I can run it by Eki and have him shoot it down. Or if he says something like, "Not a bad idea" I can pursue it because I know he doesn´t get bowled over.

We´re on the last leg of "maihuanaland".  We have to make DVD copies and design the cover. It´s one of those niggling chores that´s a snap to set aside when you´re "putting out fires". That´s how Eki describes his job. But I know if I were there I could say "Hey Eki, if it´s monday..."

Lesson 45: Keep tryin´

Next week: 46 The Tool

Monday 11 June 2012

44 Bigger Bang For Your Buck

Posh, Poor & Middleclass BRITS (2010)
Like most small doc film companies, little margie productions is always looking for ways to save money and still produce a pro production. If you want to enhance your doc concentrate on the following.
  • Location, location, location
Be sure to check them out before you shoot. Look for the scenic and unusual. For example, when I was shooting Blue, the homeless guy in Posh Poor & Middleclass BRITS i could have filmed him on the street. But instead I chose a beautiful gothic church. The combination worked because it was a quiet restful place where he could relax and added pathos to his plight.
  • Pay careful attention to the Lighting and audio
We´ve written about this before but it´s so important it doesn´t hurt to repeat it, especially for interviews. Take the time to make sure that the location is inviting, the subject looks great on film and that the audio is crystal clear. These are Musts (with a capital M).
  • Find a celebrity 
Famous faces. or even semi-famous faces add value to a doc. It might not be fair, but viewers like to look at someone they´ve seen in a flick, or on TV. The problem is (we´ve written about this too) they usually want control over content. You have to weigh the pros and cons. But if you land a celeb try to make it work.
  • Keep it moving
Unless you´ve made an artistic decision to use stills, it´s much more fun to see action. If you can´t afford an expensive steadicam try to use something else with wheels to get the effect of the camera moving through the scene. For example, a luggage cart, or the trunk of a car. Drive slowly.
  • Stock Footage
Sometimes it´s cheaper to buy it than shoot it yourself. We were lucky when making "marihanaland" and found out that "Reefer Madness" was in the public domain. Eki illustrated some of the action with scenes from RM. He also color enhanced them to fit into the doc.

Lesson 44  Attention to details means value added

Next week: 45 Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Monday 4 June 2012

43 The Dead Zone

urbanlane /
What do you do when you have no new projects coming up?  Eki and Antti work for lots of other film companies as well as little margie productions, so they´re always busy. Antti and his steadicam, long ago, were signed up to shoot at the London Olympics. Eki works at least 20/7 almost every day. But ever since I finished my work on "marihuanland" I´ve been free-floater.

What I did was pack up my camera (and interview) gear and take it with me to the US (the Wild West). Spent a couple of months checking out this and that but nothing clicked. Until I seriously started to listen to Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, David Allen Coe and other country western greats. Decided that since I´m hanging out in John Ford country it would be fun to shoot a a CW music video.

"A Tiny Ton of Trouble" will be a two (or maybe three) minute video on youtube*. We (my guitar teacher, some of the guitar-picking red-neck construction crew who worked on my house and I are collaborating on the lyrics and the music (with, I´m sure a contribution from Eki). What I discovered was, that it´s damn difficult and takes a lot of hard work to come up with a credible tune. But the filming has been has been fantastic fun.

*Posh Poor & Middlelass BRITS has had approx 11,000 hits on youtube

Lesson 43: Keep shooting. It´s good target practice.

Next week: 44 More Bang For Your Buck